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Teaching Sustainable Design Using Engineering Economics

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.536.1 - 3.536.8

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Paper Authors

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Charles D. Turner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Sustainable Design Using Engineering Economics

Charles D. Turner Department of Civil Engineering University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, Texas 79968

1998 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Seattle, Washington June 28 - July 1, 1998

Abstract: The objective for a junior level course entitled “Introduction to Environmental Engineering” is to introduce the student to environmental engineering fundamentals and to examine the principles of an environmental ethic that will lead to sustainability for humans and the ecological systems that support us. An essential part of the class is a design project in which the students design a “Center for Sustainable Education”. The facility must utilize sustainable technologies for power, heating, cooling, and water supply. The students must demonstrate financial feasibility of their project through the development of a business plan that provides a detailed analysis of construction costs, operating expenses and revenues. The cost of renewable resources must be compared to conventional resources. The students are given an initial “startup grant” of 1.5 million dollars and are expected to leverage this money through innovative strategies to cover the cost of design and construction. This paper addresses the evolution of this course and includes its shortcomings as well as successes. The course has been taught using active learning principles for the last four years. Technologies such as photovoltaic and passive solar system design are taught using just-in-time methods. The role of engineering economics and its impact on sustainable design in the class is reviewed. Finally, the course is contrasted with more traditional Introduction to Environmental Engineering courses.

Background Introduction to Environmental Engineering is a three credit hour junior level class that has undergone continual change. The class is a time delayed image of changes within the profession of environmental engineering. The current catalog description of the course is as follows’: “Introduction to the engineering aspects of environmental systems to include such topics as water quality management, air pollution and control, solid and hazardous waste management, environmental impact assessment, and governmental regulation”.

Over the past eight years the class has been taught once a year. During this time five different individuals have taught the course. The author has taught the class for the last four years. Although all instructors were engineers with terminal degrees, each instructor has had a very different background and little effort was has been made to coordinate the instructional content of the class from year to year. A variety of texts were used and the approach to the

Turner, C. D. (1998, June), Teaching Sustainable Design Using Engineering Economics Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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